World Cup chief issues stark warning

World Cup chief executive Chris Dehring told the nine venues hosting next year’s Caribbean tournament that they could be stripped of matches if their preparations are not up to scratch.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) begins a tour of all the venues starting in Barbados next Wednesday, which will host the final.

But Dehring issued a stern warning to those whose preparations for the event are deemed to be below the mark.

“The ICC, Cricket World Cup 2007 and all the major stakeholders in the event will be carrying out a thorough inspection and assessment of the preparedness of all host venues one final time during the coming weeks,” Dehring told reporters.

“If there are countries not meeting the requirements, our board and the ICC are fully prepared to take the tough decisions and relocate matches to those host venues which demonstrate they are ready.

“This event is about to impact all of our lives and we need every single person—from the workers in the airlines and at the airports, to taxi and bus drivers, workers in hotels, restaurants, on construction sites and in the civil service—to take personal ownership of the tournament and raise their game; much in the same way that we are asking our West Indies team to raise theirs to win the coveted trophy.”

Dehring hinted that Caribbean media were not giving the tournament, which opens in Jamaica on March 10, proper consideration.

“It’s time for the media to put the World Cup into greater focus,” he said.

“This is not just sports news, but it impacts news, business, finance, lifestyle and culture. To relegate the largest event—and the greatest Caribbean collaboration—in our history to the sports pages is a travesty and it is time the media shows its understanding of the realities of hosting a mega sporting event.”

The World Cup is being held in the Caribbean for the first time but the build-up has been beset by problems.

Outrage has been expressed over hotel prices which have been trebled on some islands while some stadia have suffered construction delays.

In an effort to placate international media furious over the spiralling cost of accommodation, some islands have acted to ease the burden.

The Jamaican and Saint Lucia governments have agreed to waive hotel taxes for all media accredited for the March-April tournament.

Dehring said he hoped other venues would follow suit. - Sapa-AFP


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